BOTTOM LINE: The RNC needs to redefine its purpose and organize to fulfill it.

February 18, 2023

Special Edition

I am sending General Covault’s fine essay out as a special edition in the hopes that those of my subscribers who have connections with movers and shakers in the Republican Party will pass along the General’s well-crafted program in preparation for an election that will almost certainly write the destiny of our Constitutional Republic.

Please share far and wide.



MEMO: for Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman,

Republican National Committee

The RNC needs to redefine its purpose and organize to fulfill it.

BY: Marvin L. Covault,

Lt. Gen. US Army, retired

February 15, 2023

Congratulations on being reelected to your RNC position. You have less than 21 months until the 2024 Presidential election and the first primary, in South Carolina on 3 February 2024, is less than a year away.

Let’s begin with the bottom line for the 2024 election:



The point is if you settle back into your Chairwoman position at the RNC, and proceed with business as usual the 2024 election will likely be as big a failure as was the 2022 election. In case you haven’t noticed, Biden is already campaigning, and if the past is prologue to the future, you and your organization, in all likelihood, do not yet have a plan. Beginning now, spend the next 30-60 days doing two things in support of the 2024 election:

· organize the RNC for action, and

· build an operations plan for Campaign 2024.

Are there any indications the RNC is looking to 2024?

A new entry on the RNC website entitled,

Resolutions Adopted During the 2023 Winter Meeting.

There are nine resolutions, including:

o Honoring the life of Congressman (John Doe);

o honoring the life of Dr. (Jane Doe);

o support for the U.S. food supply chain;

o opposing antisemitism;

o RNC commitment to life, etc.

A complete waste of time – resolutions going nowhere at the speed of light. What about the 2024 election? No plan. No one in charge.

ORGANIZE FOR ACTION: First Ms. McDaniel, you need to optimize your organization. Focus every person on the election every day. Streamline their work process to make them as efficient and effective as possible. Here is a list of ten topics with which to begin:


A campaign is a series of organized actions aimed at accomplishing a stated purpose and typically focused on a path toward an identifiable end-state. Trial-and-error is a process but not very effective. You need to build a specific campaign plan for the next election. Everything that happens in the RNC in the next 21 months must be focused on one thing, call it Campaign ’24.


It would seem there are never enough people and too many tasks to perform. As you move forward leading your organization towards a slam-dunk victory in 2024, concentrate your effort around a series of force multipliers. A force multiplier is an issue, concept, procedure, or action that, when concentrated on and exploited, can provide an extraordinarily positive return in relation to the limited time and effort invested in its use. Colin Powell used to say, “A leader’s positive attitude is a force multiplier.” More examples throughout this paper.

A clear statement of intent from you is a force multiplier. Why? Because intent is the tool that links all the leadership levels and binds them together toward an identifiable end-state.

You will need help, lots of it. Effective use of a chief of staff, war council, senior advisors, a red team, brain trust, and coaches are all force multipliers.


AAR is a professional discussion discovering what happened, what did not happen, and why. AAR is a comparison of actual output with intended outcomes. It is NOT a critique; critique means to criticize; there is time for that in private. AAR explicitly links past experiences to future actions. What did we do good? What could we have done better? How can we immediately institutionalize changes going forward? It’s all about accountability.

There should be brief, 15-20-minute AARs ongoing throughout the organization every day. Create a mindset that an event, no matter how small, is not concluded until the AAR is completed. AAR is simple, free, and can become the ultimate force multiplier for the organization from top to bottom.

Four, ESTABLISH NATIONAL LINKAGE AND ALIGNMENT: Beginning at your level, establish linkage and alignment between and among yourself and the RNC Chairpersons in every state to facilitate near-instant communications, initiatives, and dealing with a crisis. Then, demand that your subordinates at the national RNC establish the same linkage with their counterparts in every state.


Agility is a principle descriptor of great organizations. Agility is in one sense a leader’s mindset. An agile leader is always on the lookout for a target of opportunity and when it is identified they are quick to act on it. They are never satisfied with the status quo. An agile leader is in a constant state of taking the organization elsewhere. An agile organization is one that readily supports change; recognizes the need for change and its members are quick to suggest innovative ways to change the way the organization operates. Agility is a huge force multiplier.


Ms. McDaniel, I do not know what your leadership style is but if you demand that every decision passes through you before execution, the RNC will grind down to an ineffective, nonresponsive, behind-the-power-curve organization, and Campaign ’24 will end up looking like election 2022. The question you have to ask yourself is, do my subordinate leaders “feel” empowered to deal with increased workload, short suspenses, and potential crises situations and then back-brief me on their decisions?


Too often in the next 21 months you will face situations that need an immediate decision to head off a possible crisis; you need help. Select a small number of subordinates perhaps 3-5. in whom you have ultimate trust and confidence. They need to be your best and brightest who see the big picture, are discreet, and are not afraid to challenge you. Whenever you need help or someone to listen to a new idea, tell your executive assistant or the chief of staff, “Get the Brain Trust in here right now.” Remember, it is lonely at the top but that does not mean you need to be alone.


Select a small number (3-5) of your brightest subordinates and give them an additional duty to, “become died-in-the-wool Democrat thinkers.” Rely on them frequently to tell you how they believe the Democrats will react to “X”. What is the Democrat’s next initiative? How can/should we counter a Democrat initiative? Have them sit in on high-level meetings to comment. A Red Team is a force multiplier; do not proceed without one.


Ask a small number (3-5) of senior retired Republican superstars to advise, review and comment on Campaign ’24 initiatives. Newt Gingrich, Condoleezza Rice, Mike Huckabee, and William Bennett are names that come to mind.


In its current state, the RNC website is useless to support an election. For example, OUR RULES AND RESOLUTIONS, all 43 pages of it, should not be front and center; hide them somewhere at the end of the website or delete them. OUR PLATFORM section is three whole sentences. Ridiculous.

Start over with a blank page and a new concept for the website. It should serve two purposes.

First, is to become a one-stop reference warehouse for every local, state, and national Republican candidate across the nation who will use the data for building their campaign speeches and debate preparation.

Secondly, it should be a one-stop-shopping center for voters of all parties who want to be better informed about the issues. This reference library will NOT be filled with long, wordy essays. It will consist of multiple individual Fact Sheets for every policy and issue the Republicans are for and every Democrat issue and policy we are against and why. Every Fact Sheet must be filled with irrefutable and fact-checkable data. Update the site daily if necessary. Every paper should include in the first sentence, Posted (date) or Posted (date), Updated (date).

The sum total of all this IS THE PLATFORM FOR 2024.

For example, on the subject of election reform. Task every state to investigate and report the approximate number of ineligible voters on their Voter Registration Rolls (it’s millions in California).

· Do a fact sheet on the subject pointing out the millions of ballots that would therefore be mailed out with no accountability.

· Do a fact sheet with fact-checked examples from every state on the danger of voter fraud with ballot harvesting and drop boxes.

· Do a fact sheet demonstrating that voter fraud will be nearly nonexistent with voter ID cards.

From Biden on down the Democrats call voter ID “racist.” The Republican counter to that ridiculous charge should be this question, “Are you saying that nonwhite Americans are incapable of going to the DMV and getting a voter ID card?” Point out that on May 7th, 2025 every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license to fly within the U.S. and the Democrats claim it is racist to require an ID that will protect us from abusing voting, a sacred foundational element of this nation.

An estimated 90 million eligible voters did not vote in the 2016 election; 80 million did not vote in 2020. RNC should press Speaker McCarthy right now to pass legislation calling for new election dates in 2024. Polls should be open on Saturday, November 2nd, Sunday, November 3rd and Monday, November 4th will be an election holiday. The only way to vote will be in person on 2-4 November or by absentee ballot.


With the organization energized, it’s time to build and execute an operations plan: Every good op plan works its way through three distinct pieces:

· First, Chart a course,

· Secondly, declare expectations, and

· Finally, create conditions for success.

In simplest terms, an op plan is about answering who, what, when, where, why, and how.

CHARTING A COURSE, vision and strategy.

VISION: All great plans begin at the end; that is, with a vision of the end state. Vision answers the question of where we are taking the organization. A leader is someone who is taking the organization elsewhere. There doesn’t have to be a lot of detail in the vision statement; just enough to feel it and see it.

The vision for Operations Plan Campaign ’24 is a slam-dunk Republican victory in the 2024 election across the country and thereby change the direction of America.

STRATEGY: How are we, in general terms, going to go about achieving the end state? Strategy is a game plan. Strategy is the alignment of assets to their greatest advantage. There are three rules for strategy;

One, have one,

Two, keep it simple (explain your strategy in a few words), and

Three, if the strategy is working, do not abandon it.

Strategic planning begins with a detailed analysis of external and internal factors that lead to a game plan.

The strategy for Campaign ’24 is for the RNC to become the center of gravity for planning with dynamic information, data, and guidance flowing to every Republican candidate, local, state, and national. Get out front, dominate the political narrative, and put the Democrats on the defensive. Get ahead and stay ahead.


The beginning of communications throughout the continuum of leadership with mission, intent, and boss’ guidance.


What it is we all are going to do; it’s the launch point.

The RNC’s mission for Campaign ’24 is to tailor the entire organization to focus on the 2024 election and proactively provide guidance on Republican policy issues, programs, changes to Biden administration policy and to generally change the destructive path America is on today.

INTENT: Answers who, when, where, and why. The most powerful tool available to a leader, vision binds the organization together for a common cause. Without intent, the organization will lack direction, flounder, and probably fail.

It is my intent (the leader, Ms. McDaniel owns intent) for the RNC to make it possible for Republicans to win big in 2024 and thereby change the direction of our nation.

This organization will necessarily change its focus to support, on a daily basis, every Republican 2024 candidate in America, work faster and more efficiently, interact continuously with counterparts at the state level, and produce products that are irrefutably factual in building cases for the Republicans and against the Democrats.

We are doing this because 70-80% of Americans believe the nation is off-track and headed for a massive train wreck with few survivors.

I intend to use two paths to success.

First is the totality of RNC internal change; forget about the old RNC. Reinvent your job description. Understand the Campaign ’24 end-state and focus on the new mission. You are the Republican Party’s staff and brain trust for Campaign ’24. Support down to the states to the points of execution.

Secondly, getting the Governors and state Republican Chairpersons to sign on to and support Operations Plan Campaign ’24.


Bound the problem, prioritize, define operational considerations, set a timetable, and fix responsibility.

Every new idea for the Republican Party is in play. Nothing, as long as it is factual, is off-limits concerning the Democrat’s tax-spend-power-control agenda.

Your work day; make everything you do more achievable for Campaign ’24. There are no second priorities.

Redefine how you work; agility, synergism, create force multipliers, always have an After Action Review, there are no bad new ideas. Age-old saying, “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you are probably correct.” Get on board or get out of the way.


Centers of Gravity: A place, person, thing, belief, circumstance, or condition that is central to success for you and/or the competition. Before every phase of the operation, confer with the brain trust, senior council, and red team to determine a very short list of issues that fall into the center of gravity category and monitor the status every day. Potential show shoppers (centers of gravity) must be identified early and then contingencies developed to deal with them. This is a dynamic, never-ending process of identify/take action, identify/take action, phase by phase throughout the campaign. Centers of gravity are other force multipliers.

Assumptions: You will never have all the facts. Consider carefully the assumptions you make, write them down, and track them. Eventually, every assumption must be proven to be valid or false. Either way, there may be significant ramifications. If you base the whole strategy on an assumption, be prepared for a hard fall if you let the campaign play out too long and get too close to the assumption before you determine its validity. Moving a campaign forward based on an invalid assumption can be a death knell.

Critical Information Requirements: A short list of potentially time-sensitive issues the boss wants everyone in the organization to watch for. If someone sees it, feels it, or smells it, get the information directly to the RNC Chairperson. Update the list frequently. Head off small problems before they become big problems. Another force multiplier.

Control the Battlespace: Every problem has a defined battlespace (operating environment) and every battlespace is configured such that you either have the advantage or are in a disadvantaged position. For example, are all of the Republican Governors and the state Republican Chairpersons on board? Is the congressional leadership tuned in and responsive? Be proactive and control the battlespace thereby creating another force multiplier.

Leader Backbriefs: For the most part meetings are a colossal waste of time; but also, leaders have to remain informed on a wide range of issues. Create a culture of brief, frequent, stand-up subordinate leader backbriefs. Yes, another force multiplier.

Dynamic Planning by Phase: Some organizations believe you can just build a massive to-do list of several hundred items and say, “Go”. Well-intentioned subordinates will be moving in multiple directions, with no prioritization, too many assumptions, and soon chaos, and finally, the boss says, “Well we tried and it just can’t be done.”

Why phase an op plan? There are two good reasons.

First, let’s say we are building a 2-year 4-phased plan and we have established a reasonable end-state in general terms that is easy to understand (similar to Campaign ’24). At this point how much detail do we know about phase 4? Not much. How about phase 1? In phase one, it is clear that we need to organize for action and build an operations plan. There are already many details associated with accomplishing those two things.

The second reason why we need to phase an operation is because of the existence of a situation called DKDK; that is, at this early date we Don’t Know what we Don’t Know. How can we plan in detail for something that may or may not ever occur? The point is, every phase is new and different. How so? New facts, new assumptions, new challenges, changing levels of expertise, new centers of gravity, new situational awareness requirements, new battlespace shaping actions required, new time-sensitive information requirements, different horizontal integration requirements, changing priorities, etc. Have you heard people say, “A plan is never done?” They are correct because you will be in a constant state of discovery.

Task Lists: For every phase, leaders at all levels will produce a critical task list to insure they stay on schedule to be able to move on to the next phase. For the RNC Chair, in phase one, that list will include meeting at an off-site with all the Republican Governors, the Speaker of the House, and the Minority Leader in the Senate where she will brief Operation Plan Campaign ’24 in great detail and seek their approval and participation.

Also, during the off-site meeting the RNC Chair will lead the discussion of the first cut of the 2024 campaign platform to include but not limited to:

ü Achieve energy independence again

ü Stop the movement towards near-total government control

ü Clean up weaponized government bureaucracies

ü Tax reform

ü Election reform

ü Cut needless pending

ü No more multi-thousand-page bills in Congress

ü Cut needless spending by outlawing earmarks on legislation

ü Decentralize and reform education

ü Strengthen the military and reverse the DEI movement

ü Lock up criminals and reform the system that keeps them on the street

ü Secure our borders

ü Drastically reduce the size and power of out-of-control federal bureaucracies

ü Term limits

ü Campaign finance reform

ü New infrastructure spending to include water reserves, nuclear power, and a more secure Power Grid system.

Explain to the off-site attendees that for every platform issue the RNC will be building a library of hundreds of irrefutable Fact Sheets on the platform. Issues that will be available to every Republican candidate, local, state, and national. For example, the Washington D.C. city council recently passed a new law that would allow an estimated 50,000 noncitizens, including illegal immigrants and diplomats from foreign countries, the right to vote in local elections. The D.C. mayor vetoed the law and the city council overrode the veto. The D.C. law was voted down by a House of Representatives vote of 260-162; a Senate vote is pending. The point of this type of fact sheet would be to point out that 162 Democrats in the House believe nonresidents should have the right to vote. This is the type of information Republican candidates need to be armed with because it will resonate with their voters.

The RNC library will, in its totality, focus on two things.

One is what the Republican Party is planning to do for all Americans, and the

second is to lay out in great detail what the Democrats have done and will continue to do to all Americans.


Going forward toward the 2024 election, there are two options;

one, let things play out and react to whatever happens, or

two, become proactive and shape the environment thereby enabling a best-case scenario to emerge.

The longer we wait to do something positive about the 2024 Republican campaign, the less likely it is that we will do anything.

No leader, no plan, and no success in 2024.

BOTTOM LINE: The RNC needs to redefine its purpose and organize to fulfill it.

Marvin L. Covault, Lt Gen US Army, retired, is the author of VISION TO EXECUTION, a book for leaders, and a new book May 2022, FIX THE SYSTEMS, TRANSFORM AMERICA as well as the author of a blog

If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools.

©2022 Rip McIntosh Enterprises. All rights reserved.

Our Edith Wilson -Victor Davis Hanson

Our Edith Wilson

By: Victor Davis Hanson

February 8, 2023

Jill Biden apparently is studying the career of another progressive icon, First Lady Edith Wilson. Edith (also a younger second wife to her widowed husband) went from First Lady to de facto President from October 1919 to March 1921, after Woodrow Wilson suffered an incapacitating stroke that left him bedridden.

Jill has had more practice and started earlier than Edith since she was the architect of Joe’s 19th-century-cabin-porch, basement campaign (remember Joe’s “rallies” where a few people in cars honked applause?) that kept him from the public and in his subterranean “office” about 2–3 hours per day.

That no-show campaign worked. Dr. Jill thinks his next campaign will too. We know the script: Joe will be kept on ice, and then wheeled out for a debate or speech after 15 hours of sleep and plenty of Adderall-like substances.

The campaign, as in 2020, will be outsourced to the media, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the vast leftwing tech fortunes (again, not to beat a dead horse, but simply reread Molly Ball’s 2021 Time essay on the “conspiracy” that got an addled Joe elected).

Dr. Jill will count on 80 percent of the electorate not voting on Election Day, as the Democratic borg will scream “racism” and “voter suppression” to ensure automatic mail-out ballots, vote curing, ballot harvesting, and Silicon Valley money used to take over the work of registrars in key precincts of swing states. Election Day voting will go from the 2020s 30% to 2024s 15%.

Dr. Jill (what happened to the old rule that Ph.D.s. don’t go by “Doctor,” and so why would Ed.D.s?) will coordinate. As for now, just as Edith Wilson’s handlers created a wall around the president’s bedroom, filtered all in-and-outgoing communication, misled for months about the actual state of Wilson’s disabilities, and more or less ran the nation. So, Jill is the cocoon in which Joe is tightly wrapped.

Like Joe Biden’s long deterioration, Wilson’s health problems had been known before he ran. Six years before the 1912 election, in 1906 Wilson (50 years old) woke up temporarily blind in his right eye due to a stroke. From then on, he suffered from high blood pressure. Some historians have cited his chronic health problems to contextualize his irascibility, short temper, and arrogance (seem familiar?). Like Joe, Wilson was prone to temper tantrums, and “here’s the deal” and “come on, man” irascibility.

Again, Jill Biden more and more has become Edith. She governs what Biden says and does. And takes her own hard left cue from the Sanders/Squad/Warren crowd on the insanities on the border, Afghanistan, race, crime, oil and gas, and wokeness. Edith vetoed and greenlighted appointments; Jill does too. (Thanks to Jill, I think Kamala Harris [who all but called Joe a racist in the primaries] will be tasked with more surrogate jobs like “border czar.”)

Jill’s strategy from here on out, given his daily deterioration, is to allow her husband to rest nearly nonstop, work a two-day week, spend weekends at home, avoid press conferences and ad hoc commentaries — and hope he can still read teleprompters, while the hard Left runs the country. So too Wilson did in 1919–20. Any chance of handshaking with ghosts, addressing dead people at press conferences, or creepy references to pretty preteens in the audience will be smothered by news blackouts.

Edith Wilson believed she could keep Wilson alive and herself in the White House — and did. So does Jill. And given Wilson took over a year off from the presidency, he actually improved a bit. In a true act of insanity, both Edith and he appeared at some point had earlier shared some cockamamie notion—again so similar to the Jill/Joe plans for 2024—that Wilson could have run for a third term in 1920. But can one imagine a debate in two years between Joe and Trump or DeSantis or Pompeo? Back then, Democratic insiders stopped a non-compos-mentis Wilson from running again, and they may well do the same now with Biden.

There are other eerie similarities between the two incapacitated presidents.

Wilson and Biden are both hard leftists and both had a problem with race. Wilson was an outright, unapologetic racist, and Biden cannot refrain from racist outbursts (“put y’all in chains,” the corn-pop stories, “junkie,” “you ain’t black,” “boy,” “negro,” Obama as the first “clean” black presidential candidate, the doughnut store riffs, and on and on). Gossips likewise accused the widowed Wilson of “seeing” Edith while she was still married, in the fashion Jill’s prior husband Bill Stevenson alleged the same of Corvette Joe.

A few other similarities are eerie. The “Woodrow is fine and recovering” con contributed to the decline in Democratic fortunes. More importantly, Wilson’s out-of-step and unyielding progressivism — our first experience with woke self-righteousness — had turned off voters. So did Wilson’s sanctimonious League of Nations globalism. James Cox lost by a landslide to Warren G. Harding.

So, the Democrats were wiped out in 1920 (Wilson was too ill to attend Harding’s inaugural).

Let us hope history repeats itself, and 2024 sees the same result as 1920. Americans once again don’t like to be lied to by a First Lady, who knows the President is, well, no longer a president at all.

The difference between Trump and Biden classified docs

The Real Differences Between the Biden and Trump Troves

By: Victor Davis Hanson

American Greatness

January 26, 2023

Donald Trump for now certainly seems to have had more documents labeled classified at Mar-a-Lago in Florida than did Joe Biden at his various homes in Delaware.

Yet otherwise, the comparisons between the two cases, contrary to popular punditry, hardly favor Biden.

First, a stranger would face a far greater challenge entering a post-presidential Mar-a-Lago than a pre-presidential Joe Biden’s home, office, or garage—or who knows where?

Secret service agents and private security were stationed at Mar-a-Lago. Before the 2020 presidential election they were not at citizen Biden’s various troves for most of 2017-2020 much less before 2009.

Second, we seem to forget that for much of the developing controversy, Joe Biden’s own team was investigating Joe Biden.

On the other hand, the Biden Administration’s Justice Department and the FBI were not just investigating Trump as an outside party, but as a former president—and possible 2024 presidential candidate and opponent of Biden himself.

Remember, the narrative of the first Democratic impeachment of Donald Trump was the allegation that Trump had used his powers of the presidency to investigate Joe Biden and his family, a likely 2020 challenger to Trump’s reelection bid.

Third, no one in a position of government authority had passed judgment on Joe Biden’s alleged security violations.

That was not the case with the still alleged violations of Donald Trump.

Joe Biden, as president, had weighed in, during his own Justice Department’s ongoing investigations of Trump. Indeed, he proclaimed the former president to be guilty: “How could anyone be that irresponsible?” In contrast, he also dismissed the ongoing investigation of himself with “There is no there, there.”

Fourth, Trump is certainly right that as president he had a far more substantial claim of declassification rights than did Biden who took the papers out either as a senator or vice president.

Fifth, the FBI was not merely asymmetrical in melodramatically raiding the Trump home while allowing Biden lawyers to inspect various Biden stashes. The FBI also leaked the purported contents of the subjects of the Trump classified documents (falsely spreading the lie of “nuclear codes” and “nuclear secrets”) in a way it has not with the Biden cache.

The FBI went so far as to scatter the documents on the floor for a fake news photo-op as if the papers were so messily arrayed when they arrived.

So far, the FBI has come lightly and belatedly to the Biden case without the SWAT team get-up, and only under pressure from the public and the Republican opposition.

Sixth, Biden did not “self-report.” Biden’s team did not call the relevant government authorities the minute they discovered the classified documents in Biden’s office and home and garage.

In truth, Biden, or someone close to Biden, certainly knew that he or someone close to him had illegally removed classified documents when he left the vice presidency in 2017—or years earlier as a senator.

For at least the last six years—at least—Biden has felt no compunction to confess to authorities he illegally had classified documents.

Indeed, the only reason the current troves are coming to light was apparent White House paranoia that the media, the Biden Justice Department, and the special counsel were so fixated on the Trump documents that they likely feared someone might raise the logical question of whether a hypocritical Biden himself might be guilty of exactly the crime for which they were pursuing Trump.

Worse, Biden and his staff knew classified documents were in his possession before the midterms, but deliberately suppressed that information until after the elections were over.

Seventh, Trump’s documents were stored only in one place—Mar-a-Lago, and only for about 19 months. Biden’s were stashed at various locations for nearly seven years—or perhaps over a decade. There were far more opportunities of time and space for those without security clearances to have access to the Biden documents than to the Trump files.

Eighth, the press has exhaustively speculated, usually wrongly, about how the documents reached Mar-a-Lago and what they contained. In contrast, no one knows or even asks why Biden took classified documents, what they concerned, or who if any in his family circle had access to them.

Ninth, Trump’s documents did not expose other liabilities of the constantly investigated Trump. The Biden files so far have directed attention to the mysterious tens of millions of dollars in Communist Chinese money that poured into Biden’s think tank at the University of Pennsylvania, the proximity of members of the quid pro quo Biden consortium to these classified papers, and the files’ relevance, if any, to the Biden family’s overseas businesses. Did Hunter Biden ever consult or view classified documents while living in a home with them? Will there be fingerprint or DNA tests on the documents? If Hunter consulted any of these classified documents, then the Biden presidency is finished.

Tenth, former President Trump possessed contested documents as a private citizen. Biden’s files under contention involve the current behavior of the president of the United States. Biden ran for office, was elected, and serves as president with the full knowledge that during all this time he unlawfully possessed classified documents.

More classified docs found- what’s the difference

How About a Little Context for Pence’s Classified Docs?

The former vice president is the latest to discover classified material that was handled inappropriately.

By: Nate Jackson

The Patriot Post

January 25, 2023

Mike Pence is a truly unique politician because he places great value on honor and integrity. He’s the same guy, after all, who makes a point to avoid being alone with a woman who’s not his wife. Left-media personalities mocked him for that, just as they’re now mocking him for discovering classified documents at his Indiana home.

This does seem to be a rather disconcerting fad among members of the last three administrations, but there are some key differences.

Before we get to those differences, the gist of Pence’s story is that after multiple batches of classified documents were found in Joe Biden’s garage and think tank (chuckle, snicker), Pence ordered a search of his own home. Lawyers found “a small number of documents bearing classified markings that were inadvertently boxed and transported.” They added that Pence was “unaware” of their existence, and they alerted the National Archives. The FBI retrieved the documents a day later.

The actual material in those documents remains unknown, though we suspect a good bit of the problem here is what constitutes “classified” material in the first place. In other words, these aren’t the nuclear codes or valuable intel that jeopardizes national security or personnel. The documents are probably low-level briefings or some hand-scribbled notes. That goes for Biden and Donald Trump, too. Heck, with Hillary Clinton it was just wedding plans and yoga routines, right?

Then again, anyone in government who handles classified material must be cringing right now. Every last one of them knows they’d be in a jail cell already.

That said, “I don’t believe for a minute that Mike Pence is trying to intentionally compromise national security. Same thing about Biden and Trump,” said Senator Lindsey Graham. “But clearly, we’ve got a problem here.”

Does that problem mean Merrick Garland will appoint another special counsel? He did for Trump, which backed him into a corner for Biden.

Trump came to Pence’s defense. “Mike Pence is an innocent man,” he declared. “He never did anything knowingly dishonest in his life. Leave him alone!!!”

Now, let’s talk about what’s different here.

First of all, again, everyone knows Pence is not a corrupt political thug like Joe Biden, who used the vice presidency to cash in on a pay-to-play scheme involving his lout of a son, Hunter. Second, Pence immediately came forward with the discovery as opposed to covering it up until after a major national election like Biden did.

Biden is also cognitively impaired, and he haphazardly kept documents in a box in his garage next to his Corvette. He insisted the garage was “locked” and the docs weren’t “sitting out on the street,” but Hunter was also living in the house and driving the car at the time. Which ChiCom visitor got a peak?

It would also help to consider the cases of Trump and Clinton. Trump actively resisted attempts by the National Archives to retrieve the documents in question, while claiming publicly that presidents can declassify documents “by thinking about it.” Presidents can indeed declassify material, but it’s a bit more complicated than Trump acknowledged. Vice presidents do not have the same authority. Moreover, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home is protected by the Secret Service, though that didn’t stop the FBI from raiding it.

Trump’s case seems to be entirely about his typical bravado. Of course, I did it, he openly admitted, because I had the authority as president. And no one was going to tell him otherwise.

As for Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, she deliberately set up an unsecured email server in her home specifically to avoid scrutiny of her own pay-to-play corruption scheme with the State Department and the Clinton Foundation. She emailed classified material from that server, which had been compromised by foreign intelligence hackers. That’s a whole different level than secured papers.

As Mark Alexander put it, “Let’s be clear: Maintaining hard copies of some documents in a secured area of a former president’s house, which is protected by the Secret Service among other law enforcement personnel, is a minuscule national security risk compared to unsecured transmitting and storing of highly classified information electronically.”

Clinton also methodically destroyed evidence to conceal her crimes. She smashed a Blackberry with a hammer, deleted tens of thousands of emails with high-tech software to ensure recovery was impossible and wiped her servers — you know, “with a cloth or something.” She also lied her pantsuit off about it.

Pence has never been accused of profiting from his position as vice president, and the classified material he is guilty of having in his possession is highly unlikely to be compromising in any way. Trump has certainly been accused of all manner of nefarious schemes, though his deranged critics generally fall woefully short of even a shred of proof.

By contrast, Biden and Clinton both were running lucrative operations based on their names and positions high in the federal government. Clinton took extraordinary measures to cover that up. Biden merely delayed confession until after it would have mattered to his party’s election prospects, and he has worked overtime to dismiss the seriousness of the crime — largely because of the blatant hypocrisy of the way his Justice Department treated Trump.

Carelessness is inexcusable, as is belligerent defiance of the law. What’s worse, however, is double standards and outright criminal corruption.

Hunter Biden and Ukraine classified docs

Classified Documents as Part of His Ukraine Business Dealings?

By Andrea Widburg

American Thinker

January 23, 2023

Two Biden scandals are converging:

(1) Joe’s illegal possession of classified documents, and

(2) the contents of that genuine, 100%, all-real Hunter Biden hard drive.

The conversation isn’t only pictures of Hunter Biden, drug addict and “international businessman,” suspiciously close to the garage trove of classified documents; it’s also a compelling claim that, on at least one occasion, Hunter Biden sent his business partners an email that has the smell of a reworked classified briefing.

From the moment in October 2020 when the New York Post broke the news about Hunter Biden’s laptop, Miranda Devine has been all over the laptop story. She’s probably one of the few people with the breadth and depth of knowledge that allows her to suggest that one of Hunter Biden’s business emails, written while he was on Burisma’s payroll, seems awfully like a classified briefing, not a typical Hunter scribble.

In an article entitled “There’s no hiding Biden’s fright over classified document scandal,” Devine notes that many of the documents being discovered, to the extent we know anything about them, are from 2013 through 2016 and include intelligence memos and briefing materials from multiple foreign countries, including Ukraine and China. Devine explains, “That three-year period corresponds to the most frenetic influence-peddling activity overseas by his son Hunter and brother Jim Biden, who made millions of dollars from shady interests in Ukraine, China, Russia and elsewhere.”

However, just because things happen at the same time does not mean they’re related. Devine, thankfully, is too good an analyst to stop with mere temporal correlation. Instead, she assembles other pivotal facts:

(1) The laptop reveals Joe’s involvement in Hunter’s business deals;

(2) Hunter traveled on Air Force 2 with his Dad to countries that figure in both the stolen documents and Hunter’s deals;

(3) during the key time period, Hunter lived in the Delaware mansion in which documents were found and drove the Corvette parked next to documents; and

(4) during the same time period, Hunter had unlimited access to Biden’s official White House office.

What really grabs Devine is a “striking email.” The predicate for Devine’s analysis is that most people have a distinctive writing style. Hunter’s consistent writing style is terse, ungrammatical, poorly spelled, and poorly organized. That’s why it sticks out a mile when he suddenly writes an email showing none of those traits:

It was from Hunter to Archer on April 13, 2014, a week before Joe Biden visited Ukraine to meet then-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and refers to “my guy’s upcoming travels.”

For Hunter, it was an uncharacteristically lengthy email, listing 22 points about Ukraine’s political situation, with detailed information about the upcoming election and predicting an escalation of Russia’s “destabilization campaign, which could lead to a full-scale takeover of the eastern region, most critically Donetsk.

The strategic value is to create a land bridge for RU to Crimea. That won’t directly affect Burisma holdings but it will limit future UK exploration and utilization of offshore opportunities in particular,” Hunter wrote.

“It will also result in further destabilization of UK nationally and for whatever govt is in power. And the US will respond with even stronger sanctions. Those sanctions will threaten the tenuous support of the EU which does not have the political will to incur steep energy price increases.”

In point 22, Hunter instructed Archer to buy a “burner phone,” presumably to keep their conversations private. “Buy a cell phone from a 7/11 or CVS tmrw and ill do the same.”

It’s a prescient and very well-informed email, unlike anything else Hunter wrote in the nine years covered in the laptop, and it has the distinct flavor of an official briefing, perhaps even a classified one.

To check if Hunter copied from a website, I ran it through Grammarly’s excellent plagiarism tool, one of the phrases Devine reprints, the one beginning “The strategic value is to create….” Grammarly returned only one match, and it was to Devine’s article. Hunter didn’t download his analysis from some online news or analysis site. Those words came from a source to which the ordinary public has no access.

Currently, there’s no proof; only suspicions. But Devine is right to be suspicious when a drug-addled man who writes in a semi-literate, marginally informed, telegraphic style suddenly bursts forth with a highly detailed, deeply knowledgeable, well-organized, and literate analysis of a complex foreign situation.

That the Democrat establishment is now desperate to rid itself of Joe Biden is obvious. Biden’s departure, however, standing alone, isn’t necessarily good for conservatives. The best outcome isn’t just Joe’s removal but also the entire corrupt Democrat establishment’s collapse. Sadly, the Democrats and the Deep State are adept at protecting their interests, even as they pull down everything else around them.

The Wealth Tax……..good idea?

The Wealth Tax Is A Poor Idea

By: Richard A. Epstein

Hoover Institution – defining ideas

January 24, 2023

Now that the Republicans have taken control of the House of Representatives, it has become crystal clear that there will be no federal wealth tax on high-net-worth individuals for at least the next two years. Unfortunately, as with so many bad policy proposals, the push for a wealth tax has instead generated renewed interest in blue states. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Washington are considering introducing wealth taxes. Through a joint effort, they hope to make it more difficult for wealthy individuals to flee high-tax states for more favorable jurisdictions. This strategy represents wishful thinking at its finest. If this quixotic endeavor should become law, it will only hasten the exodus of wealthy individuals from blue California and New York to red Florida and Texas.

Today’s aggressive progressives hope to stall that movement by imposing an exit tax on these would-be exiles. These efforts should evoke oppressive regimes like East Germany, which erected the Berlin Wall to keep malcontents at home. It will surely face a fierce constitutional attack, as our Constitution has long been understood to have created a nationwide free-trade zone. In the United States, goods, services—and individuals—can move easily across state lines to promote economic development and growth. An exit tax imposes an explicit barrier on that project and is likely to be struck down as an impermissible burden on interstate commerce, as it is a direct descendant of the taxes and regulations that Chief Justice John Marshall struck down in such notable cases as Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) and Brown v. Maryland (1827).

Ironically, the rosy revenue projections that wealth-tax supporters such as Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman made in 2021 for its revenue potential—starting in 2023—are now hopelessly out of date. Two years ago, at the height of the pandemic, billionaires accumulated capital at near-record rates. Now, potential gains from a wealth tax have fallen because of the enormous declines in wealth (toward greater income equality!) experienced by virtually all newly minted tech moguls. Elon Musk leads the pack, with capital losses of $115 billion in 2022 alone. He has good company in Jeff Bezos ($80 billion); Mark Zuckerberg ($78 billion); and Larry Page ($40 billion). In sum, American billionaires lost $660 billion this past year, about one-third of the $2 trillion in losses worldwide. Nothing guarantees that they will recover those losses any time soon, if ever. Considering a hypothetical 3 percent wealth tax rate, close to $20 billion in domestic wealth-tax revenue disappeared in 2022; this number would be far higher if the wealth tax also reached foreigners.

Pass the tax and those losses will only get larger. Killing the goose that lays a golden egg is to be expected in any system that stresses redistribution first and growth second.

It should not, however, require this large a dose of reality to warn progressive states off yet another institutional blunder. The effort to impose a wealth tax runs afoul of the fundamental principles of taxation put in place throughout the income tax era, which now spans more than a hundred years. The economic, or Haig-Simons, definition of income—the increase in net worth plus individual consumption—does not work when applied to any real-world tax system that must collect taxes from millions of people quickly and efficiently. Instead, the standard way to tax wealth starts with the notion that the receipt of certain elements of wealth is taxable as income. In principle, that covers earned income and the realized gain from the sale or other disposition of property. However, it is widely known that certain kinds of benefits are so difficult to value that it is better not to recognize that gain upon receipt, so the tax is postponed until some later time when the taxpayer receives either cash or marketable securities.

For instance, receiving a partnership in a business may vastly improve your financial prospects, but it doesn’t result in the taxation of that anticipated stream of income today. Instead, each year the tax is imposed as the owner takes money out of the entity as profit distributions. Similar logic applies to stock received in corporate reorganizations like mergers, spinoffs, and recapitalizations. By design, the law does not force taxpayers to calculate difficult asset values or dispose of some illiquid asset to pay the tax.

The wealth tax stands in sharp contrast to this long-standing practice. Generally, rich people have diverse holdings because they have the resources to cultivate them. Many such assets, like artwork or fractional interests in a family corporation, are nearly impossible to value, impossible to sell, or both. The nonrecognition rules thus keep them out of the tax system. Today, however, we have an estate tax that requires individuals to include in their gross estate all of these difficult-to-value items, which often makes it impossible to settle a tax dispute on large estates in less than several years. Think of the wealth tax as if it were an estate tax imposed on an annual basis, but with the added logistical headache of being impossible to calculate in year two until the tax liability for year one has been established, and that establishing the tax for year one may take multiple years. These administrative burdens pile up in individual cases, and they become larger the wider the net is extended around the asset base.

At this point, the acute tradeoff becomes clear: the only reliable asset class for wealth-taxation purposes is publicly traded stocks and bonds, which of course can decline rapidly in value after the tax is imposed, but also before it is collected. (Think of the position of Elon Musk and others in the class of 2022.) Necessarily, that type of tax will miss the portion of their wealth that they hold in unlisted and illiquid assets, and thus will not satisfy progressives for whom depriving the rich of wealth is every bit as important as providing additional income to the poor. National wealth taxes face this difficulty, which poses an even greater challenge for a state wealth tax, with its more limited territorial reach.

The revenue collected will fall short of expectations. Worse, the tax will damage the economy. Today’s ablest entrepreneurs will be forced to devote their time to defending their fortunes against predation by one or more states that lay claim to their wealth. Wealth creation and income from other sources will both fall as administrative expenses and high-stakes litigation rise. An overall decline in social wealth will likely lead to a reduction of investment and wages and consequently to a lower standard of living and a loss of tax revenues from other sources.

Wealth taxes less ambitious than the current crop have uniformly failed. Defenders of the tax like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have long claimed that it will not touch ordinary people. But indirect effects matter as much as formal tax liability, and these will touch everyone in society.

The cumulative objections to the wealth tax may lead some of its defenders to offer in its place a more modest change: the removal of the realization requirement for the annual income tax. Asset-price volatility makes this system just as impractical as a wealth tax. In 2022, the stock market tumbled about 9 percent on the Dow, 20 percent on the S&P, and 33 percent on the tech-dominated Nasdaq index. A huge string of unrealized losses—obviously, unpredictable—will now be deductible, leading to large swings in total revenue collections.

One single impulse—to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor—drives these concerted efforts to wring more out of the taxation system, if only from a much-reduced wealth base. But even if the markets were to turn around, the fatal flaw in these onerous taxation programs persists in their initial premise: that closing the wealth gap between rich and poor matters more than increasing overall wealth.

Consider two changes in wealth in a two-person society: one person who starts with $10 and another who starts with $20. In one scenario, the wealth of both doubles to $20 and $40, respectively. Classical liberals would see an unambiguous social improvement. Equalitarians might ask whether the increased wealth differential should lead us to reject this new state of affairs where both are better off. In a second scenario, the wealth of each person falls to $5. Should an egalitarian prefer this newfound parity because it eliminates the wealth gap even though it makes both sides worse off?

One who perversely prefers the second scenario to the first shows how far modern tax theory has departed from its classical origins. In the classical liberal ideal, a flat tax to fund public improvements allows for complex changes that are intended to create public benefits that cannot be obtained via market transactions, while avoiding senseless partisan conflict over the wealth tax and its close substitutes. The system is both stable and pro-growth. It works far better than today’s never-ending set of progressive tax gimmicks.

The Constitution “…..greatest political privilege………..”

January 28, 2023

Special Edition

The Constitution

By: John Yoo

Conservative Persuasions

January 27, 2023

To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.

—Calvin Coolidge (1)

As our politics strain against the Constitution’s limits, popular leaders today demand change. A growing number of states have proposed to ignore the Electoral College system for choosing the president. Leading politicians want to transform Washington, DC, into a new state as part of an expansion of the Senate. Others suggest expanding the Supreme Court to dilute its power. Yet others want the federal government to exercise such broad powers over the economy and society to eliminate the written limits on its authorities. And some want the Constitution expanded to include their favored right, whether it involves abortion, guns, or religion.

Such proposals to upend our constitutional order draw on more-fundamental attacks on the founders’ work. At its very birth, say its critics, the Constitution accepted the evil of slavery. Abolitionists famously attacked our founding document as “a covenant with death” and an “agreement with Hell” for blessing slavery. (2) Even though 600,000 Americans died in the Civil War, all three branches of government would permit racial segregation for another century. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall marked the Constitution’s bicentennial by declaring it “defective from the start.” Only “several amendments, a civil war, and momentous social transformation” allowed the United States “to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights.”(3)

Today’s scholars have updated this criticism through the lens of identity and with the goal of diversity in mind. They hold no love for a document that originally excluded racial minorities and women from the franchise, that vests great power in a Senate that ignores population size, and that creates a presidency they believe can verge on dictatorship. The New York Times’ 1619 Project put a capstone on this critique of the Constitution by claiming that “our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written.” It goes on to claim that, instead of 1776 or 1789, America’s true founding date was 1619, when the first African American slaves arrived, which launched a nation that has oppressed racial minorities for more than four centuries. (4)

These criticisms attack the idea of a fixed constitution and ignore the Constitution’s defense of liberty, its support for civil society, and its check on misguided government. If most Americans wish to eliminate the Electoral College and elect the president by simple majority, why not let them? If a majority would replace the House and state-based Senate with a single, popularly elected body to pass legislation—as our Western democratic peers do—why not do it? Why not allow today’s majority to take away the Supreme Court’s right to stop legislation, which only stands in the way of popular preferences? If racism and sexism so cloud our nation’s birth and its subsequent history, these critics argue, we should pay the founders’ work little heed. Instead, so this thinking goes, we should not allow our 18th-century Constitution to impede the progress of more-enlightened politics today.

While our Constitution may well have allowed historical discrimination against minorities and women, it also gave birth to a nation with the principles and mechanisms to overcome these grievous harms. The United States began with the Declaration of Independence, which announced that 13 British colonies would separate from the mother country to form their own nation. But unlike many European and Asian states, some of which have origins going back millennia, America did not form itself from a shared ethnicity.

Instead, Americans founded their nation on allegiance to a set of principles, announced in the declaration: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Because all men are equal, no one has a right to rule another; instead, all government comes from consent. “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”(5)

While the declaration made the promise, the Constitution created the means for its fulfillment. Or, as Abraham Lincoln wrote (drawing from a passage in Proverbs), the declaration’s principle of liberty is the “apple of gold,” while the union and Constitution are “the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it.” Lincoln observed that “the picture was made, not to conceal, or destroy the apple; but to adorn and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple—not the apple for the picture.”(6) (Emphasis in original.)

The Constitution creates a mechanism of governance designed to protect and advance the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Beset by the original sin of slavery, tested by the terrible Civil War, the Constitution nevertheless provided the political tools for freedom’s rise. The national government used those powers to end slavery, guarantee individual rights, extend the vote to all adults, and expand civil rights in schools, the workplace, and the public square.

As the Constitution ages, it establishes government institutions and national traditions that foster political and social stability.

Of course, the founders understood the Constitution to protect liberty by placing certain rights beyond the reach of government. Although the original Constitution did not yet contain the Bill of Rights, the Federalists, who urged ratification, agreed to the demand of their opponents, the Anti-Federalists, that the new government devise one as its first order of business.

Proposed by the first Congress in 1789 and ratified by the states in 1791, the First Amendment safeguards the rights of religion, speech, press, and assembly from the federal government. The Second Amendment guarantees the right “to keep and bear Arms.” The Fifth Amendment protects the right to due process against government action and the right to property. Other amendments secure the rights of the people to their “persons, houses, papers, and effects” against searches and seizures and of criminal defendants to a fair trial. After the Civil War, the nation adopted the Reconstruction amendments, which ended slavery, extended the Constitution’s protections for individual rights against the states, and established the right to vote regardless of race. (7)

These guarantees continue to protect our rights today. By enshrining them in a written, governing document, the founders made these rights more than just hopes and promises—as is often the case with other nations’ constitutions. Instead, the Constitution obliges all government officials, through their oath of office, to protect these rights, and as written law, it allows courts to enforce them.

If the government prevents a protester from speaking, he or she can go to federal court for an order blocking official action. If an official seizes private property without just compensation, the owner can ask the courts to require just compensation. Courts will not allow prosecutors to arrest or try suspects without proper search warrants, access to legal counsel, confrontation of witnesses and the introduction of evidence, and the right to a jury. The Constitution probably appears most vividly in Americans’ everyday lives through its definition of individual rights, as respected by the government and enforced by the courts.

But the original Constitution did not exclusively devote the courts to the protection of liberty. Rather, the framers included structural limitations on government throughout the document to prevent tyranny. They wrote the Bill of Rights as a negative restriction on the federal government, for example, rather than a positive definition of individual liberty. Only on the ratification of the 14th Amendment, in the wake of the Civil War, did the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights become individual liberties applicable to both the federal and state governments. The 14th Amendment’s protection for the privileges or immunities of citizens, the equal protection of the laws, and due process allowed the Supreme Court to apply the Bill of Rights to the states.

The original understanding of the Bill of Rights sought to preserve mediating institutions just as much as it protected individual rights. The First Amendment does not define a freedom of speech and religion but instead says that “Congress shall make no law respecting” speech and religion. (8) The free exercise and establishment clauses preserve religious groups, which themselves can check government. The rights to speech, press, and assembly prevent government from interfering with private groups, such as political parties, the media, and associations, which can further monitor and restrain public power.

The Second Amendment protects “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” not just the right of an individual to own a firearm. It protects the existence of the state militia, another institution of 18th-century self-governance. The Fourth Amendment again protects the “right of the people,” not of an individual, to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Sixth and Seventh Amendments preserve juries, which could check overzealous law enforcement. (9)

The Constitution erects a second fundamental protection for liberty by creating institutions and processes that restrain public power while empowering self-government. While ever advancing toward “a more perfect Union,”(10) the Constitution fundamentally rejects a pure democracy based solely on majority rule. It bears a skeptical attitude toward the radical change that popular movements might bring. “Why has government been instituted at all?” Alexander Hamilton asked in Federalist 15. “Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint.” (11)

To help reason overcome passion, the Constitution hinders the exercise of public power. It creates a separation of powers, dividing the power to make law from the powers to enforce and adjudicate it. It requires a popular House to agree on the laws with a state-representing Senate while vesting the executive power in an independent president. A lifetime judiciary remains free of the control of either. The Constitution further inhibits government by passion by granting the federal government only limited, enumerated powers while reserving most authority over the matters of everyday life—property, family, education, and public safety—for the states.

The Constitution’s creation of multiple centers of power ensures that a people unbalanced by passion—or deceived by interest groups—cannot rush into disaster. In a parliamentary system, a single majority controls all levers of government and can make new laws at a whim. By contrast, the Constitution creates different levels and branches of government that have the incentive to compete and even conflict. In that collision, the founders assumed, only policy truly in the public interest would emerge. “In the compound republic of America,” James Madison explained in Federalist 51, “the power surrendered by the people, is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each, subdivided among distinct and separate departments.” From this combination of federalism and the separation of powers, “a double security arises to the rights of the people.” Madison explained, “The different governments will control each other; at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.” (12)

While it may slow change, the Constitution has endured while our Western and Asian peers have lived under monarchies, revolutionary regimes, socialism, fascism, and authoritarian dictatorships that have killed tens of millions in just the past century. While the Old World struggled through the worst of the two world wars, the Great Depression, and the socialist disasters that followed, the United States avoided the massive death and destruction of these crises and survived with its economic and political orders relatively intact.

Admittedly, the federal government greatly expanded its size and reach during the New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society of the late 1960s. The United States, however, never experienced a competitive socialist political party (Eugene Debs set the high-water mark with 6 percent of the vote for president in 1912) or the widespread nationalization of an industry that occurred in parts of Europe and Asia. The size of the federal government by number of employees and as a percentage of the economy still pales in comparison to that of European governments. The United States still enjoys a significant decentralization among federal, state, and local governments, which are further cabined by the strong institutions of private civil society (such as schools, churches, charities, and civic groups), compared to our advanced industrial peers.

The Constitution does not divide power among the executive, legislature, and judiciary and between the federal government and the states solely to reap the benefits of slower, more deliberate policymaking. Decentralization also protects freedom by dispersing public power. Creating 50 sovereign governments and dividing federal authority with a separation of powers makes it more difficult for “factions,” as the framers called them, to subvert the government to their own selfish ends.

In Federalist 10, Madison responded to Montesquieu’s claim, repeated by the Anti-Federalists, that democracy could survive only in a small nation and that a large US government would eventually collapse into tyranny. Madison argued that the great threat to liberty came from factions. To Madison, “The most common and durable source of factions, has been the various and unequal distribution of property,” which itself was due to the “diversity in the faculties of men.” (13)

Madison’s solution did not reject a national government in favor of small, autonomous, sovereign states, which would only have repeated the failed Articles of Confederation. Instead, liberty would best flourish in a large republic, where clashing interests would cancel each other out. The larger the nation, the more factions would arise. The larger the nation, the more difficult for these many interests to combine and take over government. Because the states would retain jurisdiction over most areas of everyday life, any interest that wished to infringe on individual liberty would have to capture not just the federal government but many of the states. Liberty would come not just from the “parchment barriers” of written documents, in Madison’s words, but through the design of a government that would empower the people but also restrain them. (14)

While the Constitution places its protections for individual rights and its structuring of power beyond the reach of regular politics, it does not answer today’s radical challenge against constitutional governance altogether. If we live under a principle of majority rule, today’s critics suggest, then we are under no duty to respect the choices made at the founding. The dead hand of the past should not reach beyond the grave to control us, the living.

Thomas Jefferson leveled a similar charge at the Constitution during the ratification. Stationed in Paris as America’s ambassador to France, Jefferson could only send advice from abroad during the Philadelphia and state conventions. He found much to his liking in the new Constitution, such as its separation of powers, the government’s election by the people rather than the states, the presidential veto, and (ironically) the reach of the taxing power. He had several problems with the new frame of government, such as the lack of a bill of rights and the absence of term limits.

But Jefferson, here and elsewhere, more fundamentally objected to the idea that “one generation of men has the right to bind another.” As he wrote just after the outbreak of the French Revolution, “the earth belongs always to the living generation,” and “one generation is to another as one independent nation to another.” Because the dead hand of the past should not control the living, Jefferson believed, “no society can make a perpetual constitution or even a perpetual law.” Jefferson believed that “every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years,” or else it is being enforced as “an act of force, and not of right.”(15) In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson recommended that the Constitution create a simple process to call for a new convention to create a new founding charter. (16)

In Federalist 49, Madison responded to Jefferson’s argument, conceding, as he must, that “the people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived.” He also conceded that a constitution should have a means for change, though only “for certain great and extraordinary occasions.” (17)

In general, however, Madison argued that a fixed constitution bore important gifts—stability chief among them. Frequent changes to the Constitution, he worried, “deprive the government of that veneration which time bestows on every thing, and without which perhaps the wisest and freest governments would not possess the requisite stability.” Madison observed that “ancient as well as numerous” (emphasis in original) traditions and institutions would fortify “a reverence for the laws.” Without that respect for the past, Madison argued, “the public passions” might disorder “the constitutional equilibrium of the government” and vest vast authority in the wrong hands. “In a nation of philosophers,” Madison playfully suggested, “this consideration ought to be disregarded.” But because “a nation of philosophers is as little to be expected as the philosophical race of kings wished for by Plato,” he observed, veneration for a fixed constitution could produce the political stability necessary for the reason of the public to control its passions. (18) Madison’s rejoinder to Jefferson provides a last and perhaps most important virtue of a permanent constitution. As the Constitution ages, it establishes government institutions and national traditions that foster political and social stability. It sets the rules of the political game, as it were, that allows Americans to pursue their political futures without suffering periodic disorder or even revolution. It gives the American people the means to rule themselves while always reminding them that they engage in self-government to advance, not regulate, their natural rights. And most importantly, the Constitution reminds Americans that their rights do not come from government but from “their Creator.” And in this, the American Constitution may be the most exceptional of all.


1. Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, “Quotations—C,”

2. Paul Finkelman, “Garrison’s Constitution: The Covenant with Death and How It Was Made,” Prologue Magazine 32, no. 4 (Winter 2000),

3. Thurgood Marshall, “The Constitution’s Bicentennial: Commemorating the Wrong Document?,” Vanderbilt Law Review 40, no. 6 (1987): 1337–42,

4. Nikole Hannah-Jones, “Our Democracy’s Founding Ideals Were False When They Were Written. Black Americans Have Fought to Make Them True.,” New York Times Magazine, August 14, 2019,

If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools.

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